Now, one would think that a conquering king being welcomed into a city would be riding in on some majestic war horse, or a mighty golden chariot, or something like that. But that is not how Jesus rides into Jerusalem. Jesus rides in on a donkey. Now why would Jesus do that? Doesn’t He want to show that He is the mighty King of all the earth and He will conquer and will not be stopped? A donkey is pretty anticlimactic wouldn’t you say? Well, there goes Jesus, disappointing our fleshly visions of grandeur. In order to see Jesus rightly, in all His glory, we need to have our fleshly visions disappointed.
12 The next day the large crowd that had come to the feast heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem. 13 So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, crying out, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!” 14 And Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it, just as it is written,
15 “Fear not, daughter of Zion;
behold, your king is coming,
sitting on a donkey’s colt!”
16 His disciples did not understand these things at first, but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things had been written about him and had been done to him. 17 The crowd that had been with him when he called Lazarus out of the tomb and raised him from the dead continued to bear witness. 18 The reason why the crowd went to meet him was that they heard he had done this sign. 19 So the Pharisees said to one another, “You see that you are gaining nothing. Look, the world has gone after him.” – John 12:12-19
Our passage today is what is commonly called the Triumphal entry. It is what begins what we call the Passion week. The week which Christ would be crucified. A week from the time of this Triumphal entry, Jesus would be rising from the dead. Now we know that this Triumphal entry into Jerusalem is an important moment because it is mentioned in all four gospels, of course with various other details in the synoptic accounts.
It can often be a temptation to man to try and make Jesus out to be something or somebody that He is not. We can often build up certain expectations of Jesus – who He is, or what He will do – that are not accurate or right expectations. We see this as a common mistake with the Jewish people in the gospel accounts. For some, Jesus disappoints their expectations, for others, Jesus exceeds their expectations. For those whose expectations are disappointed by Jesus, He does not disappoint them because He is disappointing, or because His goodness can be exaggerated, or something like that. It is not because He is an actual let down. When Jesus disappoints people’s expectations, it is because we have had fleshly, sinful, or unbiblical expectations of Jesus. When we embrace Jesus only in the flesh, we will be disappointed when we still get sick, when we still aren’t wealthy, and when we still suffer in various ways. But when we take Jesus rightly, for who He truly is, and take Him by faith, we will never be let down, and He will always exceed our expectations.